Earlier this week, Dawn Richard dropped her debut album Goldenheart, the first of a trilogy of albums. Currently sitting comfortably atop the R&B/Soul iTunes chart in the US, the 16-track album is a creative mixture of progressive R&B and electronic sounds- the result? A slick collection of music that plays like some sort of futuristic musical adventure. Quality. More after the break.
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From first play, Goldenheart hits you with a vibe that feels like you’re on the set of a modern-medieval film; the whole thing is a concept and like her EPs last year; Dawn continues her running theme of fighting the battle that is life. A melting pot of musical style, the entire album was crafted solely by long time collaborator Druski, I did say before that Dawn and Druski are working on next levels in that studio of theirs, the chemistry is real.
As far as genre’s go, you simply cannot place this album in any one lane. As Goldenheart plays, it glides through progressive R&B cuts like ‘Goliath’ and ‘Return of the Queen’; reinforcing the tribal theme from her ‘Armor On’ days. The album soon progresses into darker territory with tracks like ‘Gleaux’ and ‘Pretty Wicked Things’, the latter being the first track I heard from Dawn as she previewed it last year. The rhythmic handclapping of ‘Gleaux’, the eerie arrangement and restrained vocals from Dawn on ‘Pretty Wicked Things’ make for great scenes in this unwritten modern-medieval film.
Dawn then presents us with a contemporary Hip-Hop inspired track ‘Northern Lights’; it incorporates a rhythmic handclapping and 808 combo with a slick bassline. Straight after, we get ‘Frequency’ a sexy electronic R&B cut featuring a solid vocal performance and spacey production. Dawn’s breathy vocals glide with this beat effortlessly. This tune is hot; I want a music video for this! ‘Tug of War’ is another electronic R&B cut from the album, but with slight Hip-Hop and dub-step tinges.
The pace slows down toward the end of the album with ‘Ode to You’ and ‘86’; the latter is Dawn’s emotive output, an 80’s era inspired tune complete with synthesizers and a great vocal performance. It was also the lead single for the project; Dawn dropped the video short film for it earlier this week too. It was shot by Eugene Lee Yang, so far her best visual yet. Check it out below, it’s literally a prelude to a Mortal Kombat film.
Ballad ‘Break of Dawn’ and theatrical cut ‘300’ lead up to Goldenheart’s close with album title track ‘Goldenheart’, a piano ballad. And just like that, the modern-medieval film ends.
As expected, Dawn has delivered, this is a solid debut and from an independent artist too. This is a sound that Dawn and her team have created, there is a concept and it is distinctive- reminiscent of Janelle Monae’s debut ‘The ArchAndroid’ (not that they are similar sonically, because they are not). Everything from the musical style, to the lyrical content, to the production, to the visuals leading up to the project has been impressive; the next album in the trilogy will be Blackheart, intriguing.
Standout tracks: Goliath, Gleaux, Pretty Wicked Things, Northern Lights, Frequency, Tug of War
Not so much: Riot, In Your Eyes